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Mecklenburg supervisors enact budget, new real estate tax / June 04, 2014

After a brief public hearing where only one resident spoke on the matter, the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors approved a $91 million budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 and a new tax ordinance.

Jimmy Thompson, who lives in the Baskerville area, used his three minutes of speaking time to criticize aupervisors for proposing a two-cent increase in the real estate tax. He said that instead of raising property taxes “in a poor county” to balance the budget, the supervisors should cut the pay of county employees who serve as department heads by 10 percent. “They’re not going anywhere,” Thompson said.

As explained by County Administrator Wayne Carter, the 2-cent tax increase does not significantly increase the amount of revenue earned by the county over the coming year because, on average, the property values in Mecklenburg declined by 3 percent. In fact, only three departments in the county saw their budgets substantially increase: Mecklenburg County Public Schools, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, and Meherrin River Regional Jail.

Of the $80,678,457.00 appropriated to the general fund for the next fiscal year, nearly 60 percent — $47,337,847 — was appropriated for the local public schools.

Supervisors agreed to increase the schools’ appropriation, which was initially set at $46,609,689, at the request of Superintendent of Schools James Thornton. He said that in the past four years Mecklenburg County Public Schools has seen its budget decline by $5 million.

Thornton had requested an additional $2.7 million from supervisors, most of which he said would be used to repair aging school facilities and raise pay for teachers and staff. Carter said the county did not have sufficient revenues to meet that request.

Still, Thornton told supervisors that he was thankful for the nearly $94,000 in additional funding approved for the schools.

Besides the budget, supervisors adopted a new tax ordinance for fiscal year 2014-2015.

Except for the real estate tax increase, all other taxes levied by the county remained unchanged from this fiscal year.

In other business, supervisors amended the current budget to increase the appropriation in the industrial refund line item of the general fund budget to $6,348,985.00 from $4,334,025. Industrial refund monies are paid to new or expanding businesses in selected targeted industries to encourage economic development. Qualifying businesses receive refunds of a percentage of their taxes, for meeting benchmarks, such as job creation.

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